Without any intention, Amy Adams has become a member of the batch of extraordinary new talent that floats over Hollywood for less than 15 years, along with Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams and Jennifer Lawrence, among others.
It was with a little independent film that her name began to be heard everywhere, as if she had saved the movie (Junebug is an excellent movie with its own merits). When it came out you could think Amy had the leading role when in reality it was a supporting character with such a power and delight that it raised the whole movie and at the same time obscured it.
Her first Oscar nomination meant Hollywood was welcoming this new talent and soon she would be getting all sorts of scripts.
Amy Lou Adams was actually born in Italy, to American parents, and moved to Castle Rock, Colorado. She moved to LA and began having small parts on TV and eventually had a little but impactful presence in Spielberg’s ‘Catch Me If You Can’, which eventually led her to her breakthrough role as the very pregnant and hopeful Ashley in the low-budget Junebug.
She was ready to become America’s next favorite sweetheart when she was hired by Disney to become a real-life princess in Enchanted, but she chose to do more heavyweight work in films like The Fighter and The Master, contrasting her pristine beauty with a profound curiosity to explore darker territories.
Even if Hollywood kept typecasting her in the “sweet-love-interest” shelf, Amy kept on demonstrating they had something more in her, something they might not understand yet. Her work as Sidney Prosser in American Hustle combines all of the above and takes her to a new territory.
In a “meteoric” career, I believe the bulk of her “best performances” is yet to come, but let’s just organize some of her choices and why she is one of the best young American actresses around.
(2005) Directed by Phil Morrison
After landing small parts in other films, Amy went the Indie way and landed her first Oscar Nomination. Ashley is a character that will always be linked with her brightness, inherent optimism and energy. She is pregnant and full of grace, which makes her the only lovable character in a film where most characters couldn’t stand (or understand) each other.
(2013) Directed by David O. Russell
Her most complex character to date. In a film full of deceivers and con artists, Sydney is a self-made woman who is not scared to create any persona or reality that will serve her only purpose: to survive. In a film where excess is the norm, Amy brings the tone down to reality and a little bit of melancholy.
(2007) Directed by Kevin Lima
Young Anne Hathaway tried being a live-action princess for Disney, but she was too modern (which is not a negative thing at all). Amy came in to become the next princess and her wide-eye, floating-on-air characterization is a delight. For the first time you didn’t root for an animated version and wanted to simply enjoy the energy of this otherworldly creature.
(2012) Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
This time, Amy becomes “the wife of”, but her character of Peggy Dodd is a strong presence without whom Philip Seymore Hoffman’s Lancaster would not have the foundations and image to become a commanding religious influence. Amy’s character is, again, pregnant, which makes her seem more subdued, but make no mistake, you get the feeling that she is pulling all the characters' strings.
(2008) Directed by John Patrick Shanley
Why is it that religious people are some of the best characters for serious actors? Because they require restraint, and they lead them to express a lot with a little (specially under the heavy and concealing wardrobe). Serving as the perfect counterpart for Meryl Streep’s very callous Sister Aloysius, Amy’s Sister James becomes the naïve character that believes in doubt and how it can spiral out of control. Soon, she will also have doubts growing from the doubtful certainties.
(2010) Directed by David O. Russell
Her third Oscar nomination came by being the no-nonsense bartender that guided the main character. She is the outsider that tries to save Mark Wahlberg’s Micky from his twisted and opportunistic family.
(2013) Directed by Spike Jonze
In the shadow of her showier role in American Hustle, Amy created a quiet almost undone character for Jonze. The real woman that Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) doesn’t see as he falls for an operating system with the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Her hair a mess, she seems lost sometimes, but in the scheme of Jonze’s universe, she is the real thing, the person who deals with real feelings of abandonment, love and misunderstanding.
On The Road
(2012) Directed by Walter Salles
Walter Salles’ take on Kerouac’s revered novel was dismissed as an outdated work. What the critics failed to recognize is the excellent work of the ensemble that characterized some of the urges and concerns of an era. Amy, in a precise role, became a tortured soul in a film that wanted its characters to break free.
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day
(2008) Directed by Bharat Nalluri
Not a conventional title, this film is a showcase for another excellent actress: Frances McDormand. Nevertheless, Amy is able to stand on her own two feet and still add some zest to her Delysia Lafosse, a role that was perfect for Jennifer Tilly but that, in the hands of Amy, became less “in-your-face”.
(2008) Directed by Christine Jeffs
As one half of the cleaning working girls (the other one being Emily Blunt) Amy showed her good timing for comedy as a common mother who rises from her personal tragedy to make it in the world by herself. A role that might have taken Amy back to the times she moved to LA to try her luck at acting.